OXFORD, Miss. (UofA) - The University of Arkansas football team got a big boost from its running game on Saturday afternoon as junior running back Dennis Johnson carried the ball for a career-high 160 yards on 15 carries and helped propel the 10th-ranked Razorbacks to a 29-24 win over the Ole Miss Rebels inside Vaught-Hemingway Stadium in Oxford, Miss.
The win improves Arkansas to 6-1 on the season and 2-1 in SEC play, while Ole Miss drops to 2-5 and 0-4 in the SEC. The win is Arkansas' second straight over Ole Miss and sixth in the last eight meetings between the two teams.
Along with the strong running game, the Arkansas defense held the Rebels to only seven points in the second half and secured the win with an interception late in the fourth quarter by Eric Bennett.
Quarterback Tyler Wilson captained the offense for the Razorbacks, throwing for 232 yards on 13 completions and also rushing for two touchdowns. Six receivers caught passes from Wilson with Joe Adams leading the way with four catches for 124 yards.
After falling behind early in the first half, the Razorback offense got a huge surge from Johnson late in the second quarter as he scampered 52 yards for UA's first touchdown of the day. After an extra point from kicker Zach Hocker, the Razorbacks only trailed 17-7 at halftime.
With the momentum in their favor, Arkansas did not waste any time on their first possession of the second half. A 10-play, 56-yard drive was capped by a 33-yard field goal by Hocker and cut the Rebel lead to 17-10 with 11:55 to play in the third quarter. On the drive, Wilson connected with Jarius Wright and Chris Gragg for 20 and 19 yards respectively and strong rushes from Johnson allowed the team to get into field goal range for Hocker.
After the defense forced a punt, the offense went right back to work. Johnson wore down the Rebel defense with his powerful runs, which in turn opened up a huge pass to Adams for 37 yards down to the Ole Miss one-yard line. On the next play, Wilson plunged into the end zone on the quarterback sneak and tied the game up at 17-17 with 6:48 to play in the third quarter.
The UA defense stood tall again on Ole Miss' next possession, forcing the three and out and giving the ball back to the offense, which looked to take its first lead of the day. The Razorbacks started their drive at the 25-yard line and nearly scored on the first play from scrimmage. Wilson, again, found his favorite target of the day in Adams, who scorched the sidelines for 68 yards down to the UM 8-yard line. Three plays later, UA crossed the plane with the second rushing touchdown of the day from Wilson. The score vaulted Arkansas into the lead 24-17 with 3:22 to play in the third quarter. It was a lead Arkansas kept for the remainder of the game.
The Razorbacks added two points at the end of the third quarter as Jerry Franklin tackled Ole Miss running back Jeff Scott deep in the Rebels' end zone for the safety. The added points made it a two possession game going into the fourth quarter, 26-17 in favor of the Razorbacks.
After the free kick by Ole Miss, Arkansas went back to the running game and needed only nine plays to get the second field goal of the day from Hocker from 23 yards out. Three more points were added for Arkansas and the lead was pushed to 29-17 with 11:31 to play in the game.
Ole Miss scored one touchdown in the final minutes and also recovered an onside kick with 1:21 to play. However, the Razorback defense stood to the challenge and Bennett picked off Ole Miss quarterback Randall Mackey to seal the game at 29-24.
The Razorbacks return to the field next week as they travel to Nashville, Tenn. to take on the Vanderbilt Commodores. Kickoff is scheduled for 11:21 a.m. and the game will be televised on the SEC Network.
Arkansas plays South Carolina on Nov. 5 and Tennessee on Nov. 12 in Fayetteville. A limited number of tickets for both Fayetteville games remain and can be purchased by calling the Razorback Ticket Center at 800-982-HOGS or online at ArkansasRazorbacks.com.